2021-2022 home learning

I kept thinking I would come and post about our school year at some point after posting about the Caldor fire in the mountains, but I never did. The clock kept ticking, tomorrows kept coming and going and here we are. I am writing this a chunk of the way into the 2021-2022 school year (winter break!), but I might post it to the appropriate time period (Aug/Sept 2021), just for my own chronological documentation! I am pretty sure no one reads this blog anymore. (Who even blogs anymore?!) 

(Additional update, summer 2022, school year complete; I never did post this during winter break with a current or August publish date, so I am doing so now, with no edits to what I wrote in December/January. Just the way the school year rolled!)

Before writing this, I went back and read last year's start-of-year post. 2021 proved to be much harder than 2020 for us. It could be the length of the pandemic by this point, growing changing teens in isolation, the strain of tensions and strife in our country, all of the above, and more. But we took a full-on, desperate break from schooling over the summer. We crawled to the finish line of the 2020-2021 school year and I didn't even manage to celebrate the start of summer for or with the kids. 

There was quite a bit of reluctance to begin this 2021-2022 school year. Anxiety and stress were very high, showing up to things was difficult, but there were activities to show up to for the first time in months (over a year!). Also significant for us is that this is Brown Mouse's (and therefore our family's) last year with our beloved homeschool charter. For these and other reasons, we did a slow entry into the school year, and looking back, I refer to the first few months as "fun fall." Basically, we had been socially isolated so long, that if an activity was happening that a kiddo wanted to do, we tried to say yes. We put the priority on social and mental health and growth. It was slow going for Brown Mouse, not the kiddo we had expected to have a difficult time, but by mid-October, he was in a better place and a healthier groove, and I would say that both kids are thriving more now.

This year we have an 8th grader and 11th grader! Both my kiddos have learning differences, both have anxiety, and one was finally confirmed as Autistic (with PDA) this year. These differences deeply affect and shape their educations, our family, and their days.

I have been trying to hang onto Together Time, but it is hit or miss. This is the only piece of our intentional homeschooling that we still do all together and I try and bring content, conversation, books, and games that fill gaps and are short and sweet. One kiddo has really been struggling with auditory overwhelm, which is the primary reason it is hit or miss.

This autumn, our 8th grader got to take an ecosystems science class (in person, outside) with his charter, followed by an incredible series of field trips that included Lala Bug and me. The staff quickly noted how much the (small group of) middle schoolers were struggling post/mid pandemic, and have since also instituted a weekly middle schooler game time. At home, we have been working together through math and writing/language arts most especially. Science and history are easier to touch on naturally in our homeschool. Moving into winter/spring, he has again (4th year for him) joined the Shakespeare class. The students will be performing A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Club soccer resumed this fall and Brown Mouse was thrilled to participate. What we didn't anticipate, however, was how much pain he would experience running the full sized fields after such an epic growth spurt (8+ inches), so we paired soccer with physical therapy. Shortly after soccer season wrapped up, he very happily began mountain biking club, which will roll for the next 5+ months. (Both kids have been mountain bikers for a few years, really ramping it up during the pandemic.) Biking and bike mechanics are his primary passions, so he's a happy kid.

(Resources for him include; ALEKS, All About Spelling, Brave Writer, Write Shop, and others.)

Lala Bug didn't return to club soccer, but she did return to ballet since it resumed in-person. She danced all fall and is continuing to do so, adding club mountain biking for winter/spring. (Unfortunately for me and scheduling, the kids are in different biking clubs.)

For 11th grade, Lala Bug is tackling Algebra II, World History, English, and Italian. In the fall, she also had Psychology on her learning plans and for winter/spring, she's studying Astronomy/Rocket Science. And always, she gets credit for art, which, for her, is sewing, knitting, fashion design, pattern writing, pattern drafting, and more. She is getting more and more skilled and it likely to pursue these passions beyond high school. 

(Resources for her include: Khan Academy, Write Shop, edX MOOC, Mr. D Math, Crash Course, and more.) 

Both kids are also participating in a couple projects in 4-H; hiking and an environmental stewardship project.

I am trying to stay on top of providing resources, encouragement, teaching life skills, supporting mental health, and all the things, but I am also gently beginning to consider what I want to be when I grow up and retire from home educating these kiddos.